Walking up Yen Tu Mountain.

As far as I know, Yen Tu Mountain is the only spiritual mountain I've "climbed". I've been to the top of Yen Tu  twice, although I did not walk all the way from the bottom (6000 meters).  Walking from the bottom takes about six hours and I didn’t have the time (or energy) to make the trek. On both of my trips I was with Trish Thompson and the Joyfully Together Mobile Retreat so we took the cable car about two-thirds up the mountain. It is still a good walk over rough terrain from the end of the cable care. The walk down was much easier using carved rocks and constructed steps.  It is common to encounter fog on the mountain and on my last trip visibility was extremely limited.

In Vietnam: Lotus in the Sea of Fire, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) talks about the life changing journey “The great King-monk Tran Thai Tong made to meet with the “Venerable Truc Lam, the great monk and imperial counselor.”

 Tree in fog - shaped by the wind.

Tree in fog - shaped by the wind.

 View on my first trip when the fog was not so intense on the way down.

View on my first trip when the fog was not so intense on the way down.

 Pilgrim resting on the trek up Yen Tu Mountain - bamboo walking stick next to her.. 

Pilgrim resting on the trek up Yen Tu Mountain - bamboo walking stick next to her.. 

 P:ilgrims worshiping at the pagoda at the top of Yen Tu Mountain.

P:ilgrims worshiping at the pagoda at the top of Yen Tu Mountain.

Children at War (Vietnam 1965 & 1966)

My first trip to Vietnam was in 1965. I was a 19-year-old Marine. I have written about how I came to be in the Marines elsewhere, so I’ll skip it here. A few months after I arrived in DaNang I bought a 35-mm camera. I loved that camera and usually had it with me – I always had a radio, that was my job. Mostly, I took photos of children. I don’t recall making a conscious decision to focus on children. Perhaps I was drawn to their openness or innocence. Some of the children smiled and looked at ease, but not all. In some, you could see worry and anxiety.  Adults would also show worry and perhaps mistrust. Now, when I look at the photographs I can’t help but wonder if they survived the war. I don’t think most of the children I photographed had an option not to participate. Many of them would have been in their late teens or early 20s by the time the war was over. Some were just a few years younger than me. War is always a tragedy, regardless of who is considered the winner or the loser. All photos in the slide show were taken near DaNang in 1965-1966.